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Brass Tacks and Kashmir: India-Pakistan Military Crises in the 1980s

A crisis between India and Pakistan erupted between November 1986 and March 1987 after India launched the largest-ever military exercise in the subcontinent, called Operation Brass Tacks. The exercise took place in the desert area of Rajasthan, a few hundred miles from the Pakistani border, and included nine infantry, three mechanized, three armored and one […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Military, Post-Colonialism, South Central Asia Tagged |
The Day the Fountain Ran Dry: An Indian Duck Tale

As a Foreign Service Officer serving abroad, it is natural to become close friends with the colleagues with whom you share embassy offices; in many cases, they get to be like your family away from home. In the same way, any creatures which happen to be resident in diplomatic spaces become like family pets. As […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Foreign Service, Humorous, South Central Asia Tagged , , , |
Trouble in the Mountains: The Sino-Indian War, 1962

When two powerful countries cannot agree on the location of their shared borders, there is trouble. Such was the case with China and India in October 1962. China and India had long disputed ownership of the Aksai Chin, a mountain pass that connects Tibet to China’s Xinjiang province on the western side.  On the eastern […]

Posted in China, Military, Russia/Soviet Union Tagged |
Diplomacy Despite It All – Kissinger’s India Fix

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited India October 28, 1974 to discuss its nonalignment policy, which aimed at preserving India’s post-colonial freedom through refusal to join any coalition, including the U.S. or Soviet blocs. Relations between New Delhi and Washington were anything but cordial at this time. The 1971 refusal of Nixon and Kissinger to […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Cold War, Humorous, South Central Asia Tagged , , |
The NPT and the Aftermath of India’s Nuclear Test — May 1974

Operation Smiling Buddha was the assigned code name for India’s first nuclear weapons explosion on May 18th, 1974. India declared that this test was simply a “peaceful nuclear explosion” or PNE, yet it was later discovered that this was actually a part of a nuclear weapons program. The sharp backlash by the international community  stemmed […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Military, South Central Asia Tagged , , , , |
India and Pakistan on the Brink: The 1998 Nuclear Tests

In May 1998, India conducted its first nuclear bomb tests since 1974 at the Indian Army Pokhran Test Range. Known as Pokhran-II, the tests involved five detonations and were followed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declaring India a full nuclear state. India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had come to power in the 1998 elections […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Military, South Central Asia Tagged , |
Strobe Talbott: From Foreign Affairs Journalist to Number Two at the Department of State

What is it like to transition from the senior ranks of American journalism to a top job in an agency you once covered?  Strobe Talbott found out when his old Oxford roommate, newly-elected President Bill Clinton, asked him to join the State Department.  Talbott went on to serve for seven years as Deputy Secretary of […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History
The “Blood Telegram” That Angered Henry Kissinger: Violence in East Pakistan/Bangladesh

Shortly after joining USAID in 1969, Desaix “Terry” Meyers found himself witnessing both the aftermath of a major natural disaster, and the devastating levels of sectarian violence that followed in East Pakistan in the early 1970s. After a cyclone hit Pakistan in the fall of 1970, killing over 500,000 people, a famine ensued. This particular […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History
Combating the flow of Foreign Fighters affiliated with the Islamic State

The rapid ascent of ISIS in 2013-16 was fueled by a flow of “foreign fighters” from across the Middle East, North Africa and portions of Europe and Asia. Foreign fighters in ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known by other names, notably “Da’esh”) numbered up to 40,000 by some estimates. Interdicting the […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History
USAID’s Work with an Unsung Hero of the Fight Against Apartheid in South Africa: Dullah Omar

USAID worked intensively with the new South African government after the fall of apartheid in 1994.  William Stacy Rhodes was at the heart of these efforts, serving as Mission Director from 1998-2002.  He recalls working closely with Dullah Omar, Nelson Mandela’s lawyer in the darkest days of apartheid and the first Minister of Justice in […]

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